The secret to great customer service, in 140 characters

Twitter bird

Social media is a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Twitter is one of the most commonly used social media platforms and can be an easy and effective way to raise awareness of your business and engage with your audience. Social media can also have a less positive side.

But, what do you do if someone complains about your business on Twitter?

Don’t panic

If you come across negative feedback, your first reaction may be to panic and/or jump to your own defence. The best thing to do is take a deep breath and step back from the computer. Although ignoring complaints is not a good idea, taking a few hours to think up a response won’t do your business any harm and it could mean the difference between the situation flaring up even more and finding a diplomatic resolution.

Respond positively

How you deal with a social media complaint has far more implications than dealing with a customer complaint over the phone or in person, due to the public nature of social media. A badly handled situation could reflect negatively on your business but on the other hand, a well thought out response could actually work in your favour and demonstrate your business’ exemplary customer service ethos and help you gain the respect of your customers.

Your response will depend on the exact nature of the complaint but as a guideline it is good to start by thanking the person for their feedback. Tell them you would like to discuss the issue further and invite them to contact you either by email or phone. Where possible try to take the issue offline, or at least off Twitter.

Monitor your internet presence

Ignorance is not always bliss, particularly when it comes to what is being said about you behind your back in the highly public internet arena. Make sure you have good monitoring systems set up, so you are aware of any negative comments made about your business through not just Twitter but other social media and internet platforms. There are a few good monitoring systems out there, including HootSuite and Google alerts. Make sure you get in the habit of checking them on a daily basis.

Look on the bright side

Negative feedback may be confronting and uncomfortable but it gives your business a chance to learn and improve. Social media can be a great form of market research and a way of discovering more about what your customers want and need from your business. By listening to the conversations your customers are having, not only about your business but about their problems, you can better identify what they want and need from you and work on delivering it.

Typically, social media complaints only form a small part of the overall picture. If you are the recipient of a complaint on Twitter remember to keep a sense of perspective, address the situation positively and move on.